9 December 2005

On the other hand - I wrote of the US - things here are not as pleasant as they can be in the UK and the culture is shot through with racism. There is a high premium on appearances here. Customer service is much better. And that's in part because people are more desperate. The tempo of the place is set by the principle of "live to work" rather than "work to live". The reach of the rule of law is patchy and civil society is atomised. The secularisation of public life has not happened. In this sense, things are backward.

I'll tell you what's positive too. Optimism, a contextual frame of meritocracy, people caring about their jobs and a sense of organic functionalism, accountability, respect for authority, genuine multi-ethnicity, more space, less careworn and weary tact, less entrenched class conflict, plenty of food. Also a highly competitive economy where the benefits of innovation seem to spread around quickly.

I'll be mid-Atlantic tonight.

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